Amazon Choice system ‘inherently flawed’, says consumer site

Watch.co.uk says customers are being incentivised by sellers to leave five-star reviews

Jack Horgan-Jones

Amazon’s product recommendation system is “inherently flawed” and “easily gamed by unscrupulous sellers”, consumer website Which? has claimed.

The website examined the use of the Amazon Choice badge, which its research suggests consumers see as a mark of quality. A survey of Which? users found that four in ten Amazon customers believe the presence of the logo means it has been quality checked by Amazon, and 35 per cent believe it has been checked for safety.

The badge, according to Amazon, recommends highly-rated, well-priced products available to dispatch immediately.

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However, Which? says that an investigation it undertook shows that online sellers are “secretly incentivising” customers to leave five-star reviews, which make it more likely that they will get the Amazon Choice badge.

The website said many unknown brands appeared alongside household names like Apple, Panasonic and Sony, in the top 50 best-sellers for five popular tech categories: dash cams, action cameras, headphones, security camers and smartwatches.

However, it said that it found evidence of products incentivising customers to boost their score. Negative reviews of a particular brand of camera suggested a leaflet which came in the box with the item explained that the company would provide free accessories in exchange for a five star review.

Another reviewer said a company contacted them directly following a review asking them to change their rating to five stars in exchange for a free camera. The website found several other products which it deemed to have suspicious reviews and high ratings despite many reviewers suggesting incentives were available for good reviews.

Amazon told the website that it had removed the logo from a number of sellers and products. It said it used advanced technology and regular human audits to ensure Amazon Choice products were of a high standard.

The Irish Times has also asked Amazon for a comment.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a political reporter with The Irish Times